Z34107 tips an article at Ars about the history of ethernet, from its humble beginnings at Xerox PARC in the mid-'70s, to its standardization and broad adoption, to the never-ending quest for higher throughput. Quoting: "It's hard to believe now, but in the early 1980s, 10Mbps Ethernet was very fast. Think about it: is there any other 30-year-old technology still present in current computers? 300 baud modems? 500 ns memory? Daisy wheel printers? But even today, 10Mbps is not an entirely unusable speed, and it's still part of the 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet interfaces in our computers. Still, by the early 1990s, Ethernet didn't feel as fast as it did a decade earlier. Consider the VAX-11/780, a machine released in 1977 by Digital Equipment Corporation. The 780 comes with some 2MB RAM and runs at 5MHz. Its speed is almost exactly one MIPS and it executes 1757 dhrystones per second. (Dhrystone is a CPU benchmark developed in 1984; the name is a play on the even older Whetstone benchmark.) A current Intel i7 machine may run at 3GHz and have 3GB RAM, executing nearly 17 million dhrystones per second. If network speeds had increased as fast as processor speeds, the i7 would today at least have a 10Gbps network interface, and perhaps a 100Gbps one."
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